Leitura para o fim-de-semana: o gangue de reformados

É uma história fabulosa: como um grupo de ladrões reformados se juntaram para fazer aquele que foi considerado o maior roubo de jóias do Reino Unido. Ao todo, o golpe terárendido 20 milhões de dólares, dos quais 15 milhões ainda estão desaparecidos. Para ler na Vanity Fair.

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PROLOGUE

‘It required a team with diverse skills…. It took ingenuity and brute force,” reporter Declan Lawn speculated on BBC television three weeks after what was already being called “the greatest heist in British history,” the audacious April 2015 ransacking of safe-deposit boxes in Hatton Garden, London’s diamond district. The crime was indeed epic. So much cash, jewelry, and other valuables had been taken that the loot, worth up to $300 million according to estimates at the time, had been hauled out of the vault in giant trash containers on wheels. Lawn demonstrated the acrobatic feats the gang must have used, and London’s newspapers were filled with artists’ renderings of the heist, featuring hard-bodied burglars in black turtlenecks doing superhuman things. Experts insisted that the heist was the work of a foreign team of navy-SEAL-like professionals, likely from the infamous Pink Panthers, a Serbian gang of master diamond thieves. Retired Scotland Yard detective Barry Phillips believed it was the work of a highly technical team, assembled by a so-called “Draftsman”—who financed the heist and assembled the players, probably from the U.K. He speculated that no member of the gang would have known any of the others, in order to preserve “sterile corridors,” making it impossible for any perpetrator to rat out the others.

The thieves had surely divided up the spoils into easily transportable lots once inside “the slaughter,” as their hideaway would have been called in London gangster argot. Perhaps they had sneaked the jewels out of the country by stuffing them up the butts of racehorses, the flamboyant villain turned celebrity Dave Courtney theorized on the BBC. The thieves would have been whisked out of Great Britain on a quick ferry trip from Dover to Dunkirk or Calais, from where they could disappear into Europe.

British crime aficionados saw the operation as a refreshing throwback to the meticulously planned, supremely executed jewelry heists of yesteryear, the ones that had inspired such classic crime movies as To Catch a Thief and Topkapi. Many were calling it “the perfect crime.”

But when arrests were made a month later, Great Britain collectively gasped.

THE VILLAINS

Retirement is a bitch.

Your wife has passed away. Most of your mates are in exile, prison, or the grave. Even the cops you once eluded have died, retired, or forgotten you. You skulk around your run-down mansion in the suburbs of London, puttering in your garden, infuriating your neighbors by running a used-car dealership out of your home, and “hobbling over to the news agent,” as one neighbor put it, for the daily papers to read about younger men doing what you used to.

This was the life of Brian Reader at 76. “He ain’t got no friends no more,” a colleague would say of him. “Sitting down there in the café, talks about all their yesterdays,” said another. “He was a thief 40 years ago.”

The Guardian’s veteran crime reporter Duncan Campbell, who met Reader 30 years ago, described him as something of a gent, “an easy-going character, the antithesis of a criminal wide boy, still in touch with his old school friends.”

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